Two more sleeps til the Cooper Creek

Submitted: Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 10:11
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Morning all,
So nice of work to give me the week off, right on school holiday time too.

Anyway, I promised the lad (15yo) I'd take him fishing to a place he might never get to go fishing at ever again. So on Wednesday morning (about 5am) we head off from Adelaide to make camp along the banks of the Cooper. Now let me make this clear, I'm not planning to go there to "bag out". It's more a father/son bonding session before he gets too old to hang out with his "old" (37 yo) dad. And of course, little miss 5 wants to come along too.

We wont be relying on fire wood for cooking or tea/coffee (have gas bbq and an eco billy) but a little fire for some warmth and ambience would be nice. Here in lies my question.

Where do I camp? Should we go up towards where the Cooper cut the track or go towards where the ferry runs? What's the availability of fire wood like for a small fire x2 nights? What's the chances of other EO people being there (Stephen????)

Not having been north of Marree before, any info would be very much appreciated.


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Reply By: Rockape - Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 12:04

Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 12:04
can't help with the camping but I would like to comment on the first part of your question.

It is great that you are going to take the kids along and let them see some of this awesome country.

I should have done this years ago and I regret not doing it.

Always away on trucks or working away at mines. A good many years ago my youngest son said to his mum "Mum you know I don't even really know Dad".

Have a good one with the kids
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Follow Up By: Fab72 - Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 15:10

Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 15:10
I know what you lad is going through. My old man was 46yo when I was born, so by the time I wanted to get out and kick the ball, he was too old and back aches etc had kicked in from years of slogging his guts out.

In regards to material items, we never went without even though my folks were tight bums. But the one thing I missed which money could never buy were the memories. My old man died 6 years ago and although there were few father/son bonding moments, the ones we shared will live with me forever.

One thing I learnt was to differentiate between quality time and quantity time. Now as a father of 3 young kids, I never pass up the opportunity to read a story together, dig for worms, play cricket or attend school functions.

I almost fell into the trap my old man fell into. And that is to work to live, not live to work. I gave up my corporate job, company car, expense account etc for a job that has set hours and little weekend work. Do I miss it? Hell no! At the end of the day, I found that what I was doing was ALL for me. My kids didn't care if they ate at a fancy resturant or ate home made pizzas. They didn't care if they had a SS Jumbo cricket bat or a Spalding, and they didn't care what car they drove around in. What they care most about was that I take them to their sporting games on the weekend, have tea with them, tucked them in at night and be there for them when the tears are flowing.

Greed is slowly erroding the staples of family life. Hence, like everyone who's reading this, us smarter people see the benefit of taken the time to travel, see and share moments with our loved ones and crave the need to get out beyond phone range and create those life long memories.

When were old and grey and shacked up in a nursing home with limited outside access, staring out the window at the sunlight will trigger sights, sounds and smells from our past, a healthy bank account will not be worth the paper the statement is written on.

Rockape....seize the moment. You're never too old and neither are your kids. Live everyday as your last and treasure every new day with the enthusiasm that kids do on a Sunday morning. Live with no regrets because one day, tomorrow will not come. I religious? No. But to let you all in on a little secret, just 13 months ago, I was on my death bed after a bad motorbike accident. Amazing how much my life changed after this event. As sad and as painful as it was, and still is some days, my prang was the best thing that ever happened to me. Don't find out what you're really missing by accident.

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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 14:28

Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 14:28
Hi Fab
We will be back again, but not for about another 5 weeks. Now for the Camping spots??

If you want to make a slower day of it from Adelaide, the Farina Camp grounds are very well worth staying a night, just as are the Clayton Bore Camp ground on the Birdsville Track, complete with showers and that warm spa tub. If staying at these locations, make sure that you bring some wood in for the fire. You can purchase firewood at Farina if you come in without any.

As for the Cooper Crossing, you will have 2 choices, both very different from each other.

1. Camping near the MV Brennan Site. After passing through the Road Closed and Detour sign, head north up the Birdsville Track for around 26 Kilometres until you get to the Brennan site and the water over the Track. From there you can make your way for about a kilometre to the east where you can camp near the trees, but not on the water. There was lots of fallen timber in this area, even though you may have to take a little walk to collect it. This location will be the most secluded with no vehicle traffic or nearby campers. Depending on how much the Cooper has risen, you will have about a 10 minute walk to the actual water, where you will get the best sunsets pictures of all the water and the trees surrounded by all the water.

2 Camping near/at the Ferry Crossing. To get to this location, simply follow the detour sign at Etadunna and it will bring you to the southern side of the ferry crossing. The camping here is very open and no timber. Cross over on the ferry and as you cross over, you will find a number of very good camping spots, only metres from the Cooper. Even though there are lots of trees here, again you will have to go for short walks to get wood for your fire. Camping here you will be in full view of the ferry and be able to monitor the vehicles that cross over on it.

Having camped at both locations, both are very different and it will come down to what you personally prefer. What you will find is that most people that camped at the ferry crossing were one nighters, crossing over on the ferry, camping the night and going back over the next morning.

Where ever you do camp you will be in for a sight that you will not believe.

And for the record, we will be staying again at both locations when we head back, one or two nights near the Brennan sight and 3 - 4 nights on the northern side of the Cooper near the ferry site. Having said that, you will also be able to find secluded places on the northern side, but at the actual Birdsville Track crossing.

Have a great time and just take it all in.



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Follow Up By: Fab72 - Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 14:49

Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 14:49
Thanks Stephen,
Agree, two very different scenarios. Mmmm, I might spend one night at each.

I really want to get a feel for the amount of traffic that goes across the ferry. Our big family holiday later in the year (Sept/Oct school holidays) will take us across the ferry and up into QLD, so I'll use this oportunity to gauge the delay.

Thanks Stephen, I knew I could count on you. ;)

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 19:11

Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 19:11
Hi Fab
I do not know if you have seen the news tonight, but the Lake Eyre Yacht Club's first ever regatta starts tomorrow and has attracted members from all over Australia to take part in Australia's most unique event ever. The road out to the ferry sight will be very busy, so it would be unfair to gauge the amount of traffic there at this stage. Jason has graded a road to Lake Kopperamanna where the Regatta will be stages and they will be camping there.

Your children are going to have a ball and so will you.

All the Best and have a fantastic trip.


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Reply By: jim870 - Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 18:04

Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 18:04
Thanks also Stephen,

I have also been reading your Blog and comments and in the end couldn't stand it any longer I have talked a mate into taking 2 days off work and we are shooting up on the weekend of the 17th to have a look.

Unfortunately couldn't find another car so the kids are staying home for this one, however we have the Flinders set for Oct with the new camper which they will have fun with.

Thank you for sharing your info


PS do you have any ideas on how to explain to the wife all the extras that keep magically appearing on the 4WD for the trip :)
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 19:18

Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 19:18
Hi Jim
Thanks for that, and that was the reason why I wanted to share the information, so people like you will get the urge to head up and see water that will last for a while. Once it has all dried up, it could be decades before we see such an event again.

You are in for a real shock and will find it hard to believe that there is just so much water there.

Have a great trip and if your children want to see it in October, the water will still be there.


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Follow Up By: jim870 - Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 20:43

Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 20:43

Oct may be a possibility, have booked into Rawnsley park but nothing saying we couldn't bug out early and take the camper up to Maree.

Another quick question if I may, the Paj is fairly new and a company car so can't easily chage over tyres that are only 7000km old.

I'm running Bridgestone HT 265/65/R17 and planning on taking them down to 26-28 psi do you envisage any problems if I be careful and sensible and drive to the conditions.


PS if you are coming up to the Riverland at any stage and I can repay the favour just shout ;)
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 21:53

Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 21:53
Hi Jim
We are regulars to the Riverland and it is a top part of our State.

Track conditions can vary greatly, but drive to the conditions. The dirt sections between Lyndhurst and Marree were as good as they get and I could have sat on 100 kph. Having said that I sit on 80 kph as you never know what is over the next rise or around the next corner.

The first 20 odd kilometres north of Marree were in top condition, followed by about 20 odd kilometres of usual Birdsville Track rocky conditions. From then on the graders where out in full force and the road in very good condition.

What I call good may differ from another persons perspective, as I am comparing it to other times that we have driven it.

Re tyre pressures, I drop my about 20% when on the dirt, do not rush and have had no problems, but will come down to your driving habits.

When we were staying in Copley, one man also in a Prado said the road up to Marree was in poor condition and he ruined one tyre when he hit a wash away at speed. He ruined his tyre by his own making, highway tyre pressures and a speed.

Slow down, take your time and this will greatly minimise tyre problems.

Have a great trip.


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Reply By: Farquo - Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 21:28

Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 21:28
Cooper is great at the moment. Not long back from camping on the banks at Innamincka. Plenty of water, fish jumping, bird life. Camping areas starting to open.
Wherever you go in arid areas you should take your own firewood. Buy some in Adelaide before you leave or pick some up at Wilpena pound or many other places. Wood takes so long to grow in arid areas and what does fall is valuable habitat for a while then nutrients.
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Follow Up By: Fab72 - Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 23:58

Monday, Jul 05, 2010 at 23:58
Thanks Farquo. I anticipated the lack of firewood and spent today collecting firewood and filling 20 litre buckets with kindling and dry leaves from my limitless supply just over my back fence. My house backs on to the O'Bahn reserve in Paradise and there is heaps of fuel load just lying around.

Actually, it makes me nervous in summer and the council never clean it other than a quick mow twice a year.

Thanks again for the update.

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